BREAKING: Fish River Resort to re-open

NEW HANDS: The keys to the Fish River Sun were handed over to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, DRDLR, on Friday who, in turn, handed them over to The Mantis Collection. From left are Sun International’s Mike van Vuuren, Zama Memela of the DRDLR and acting chief director of the commission for the Eastern Cape, Isaac Peter of the DRDLR, director of legal at the national office, Carl Haller of the Mantis Collection and Christiaan Coetzee,  provincial security coordinator Picture: ROB KNOWLES

Mantis given caretaker rolE

By ROB KNOWLES and MAUNEEN CHARTER

Ndlambe’s iconic Fish River Resort will be soon reopen its doors to domestic and international guests after Eastern Cape-based Mantis Collection secured a one-year caretaker contract of the former hotel and casino from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR).

LEAVING A LEGACY: Karen Lee, left, who was general manager of Finance at the Fish River Sun and was there from the day it opened, and who was assisting with the hand-over to the Mantis Collection. Former general manager of the hotel, Sun International’s Mike van Vuuren who is currently the general manager of Sun Boardwalk in Port Elizabeth was also there at the hand-over of the keys to the premises to the new owners, the department of rural development and land reform last Friday Picture: ROB KNOWLES

Sun International, who owned the building and ran the facility have been in negotiations with national government for some time.

Fish River Sun opened its doors in March 1989 and its casino brought multitudes of visitors to the Sunshine Coast, but after its gambling licence was transferred to Boardwalk Sun in Port Elizabeth just 10-years later, in May 1999, the hotel has taken strain.

From left, front row, Former general manager of the Fish River Sun and current general manager of the Sun Boardwalk in Port Elizabeth, Sun International’s Mike van Vuuren, Karen Lee, former general manager of finance for the Fish River Sun, Mantis Collection director Carl Haller and new Fish River Resort’s general manager Ashley Palm, with security officer Marius Coetzer at the rear were all present at the hand-over of the keys from Sun International to the department of rural development and land reform and then to the new caretakers of the resort, the Mantis Collection on Friday last week Picture: ROB KNOWLES

Ongoing land claims made by three Xhosa groups, the AmaZizi, Tharfield and Prudhoe groups saw the company close the establishment at the end of November last year. For more details of the land claim, see https://www.talkofthetown.co.za/2017/05/11/breaking-fish-river-sun-finished/

Mantis Collection Director and former Port Alfred resident Carl Haller received the keys to the establishment at an informal handover held at the Fish River Resort on Friday.

Fish River Sun closure imminent

Sun International’s Mike van Vuuren, general manager of the Sun Boardwalk as well as the former GM of the Fish River Sun, handed over the keys to Zama Memela, chief director of the commission in the Eastern Cape for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) who, in turn, handed them over to Haller.

“This is a one-year caretaker contract,” Haller explained. “We would ultimately like to take a marketing and managing contract for a longer period but, at this time, we need to secure the property and slowly bring back some of the popular facilities available in the past.

“It is crucial that we uplift local community through skills development as well as the Golfing Academy,” he said.

“It is crucial that we uplift local community through skills development as well as the Golfing Academy,” he said.

Haller believes Mantis’ proposal, its experience with boutique hotel management, the company’s founding pillars of education and conservation together with its associations and partnerships around the world and in South Africa helped to clinch the deal for which several other bidders had competed.

Stenden South Africa, an international branch campus of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences based in the Netherlands, is also on-board to provide staff training and other foundations and Mantis Collection partners will look at the other aspects and facilities of the hotel.

The Mantis Collection, led by Adrian Gardiner, also chairman of the board at Stenden South Africa, is firmly based in the Eastern Cape, with its head office in Port Elizabeth and marketing and management contracts with several hotels both locally and overseas.

“Mantis wishes to leverage its relationships with its local and international partners to develop a strategy that ensures the sustainability of the asset going forward,” said Haller.

“We will be opening our doors to guests shortly, along with the golf course and other facilities,” he added, explaining that this would allow them to set up local staff training, with many of the Fish River Sun staff retrenched last year being re-hired and prove their ability to make the hotel sustainable.

BREAKING NEWS: Surprise inclusion in land claim

He was bullish about Mantis’ association with overseas foundations that could help revitalise the resort. “The facility is a huge asset to the Sunshine Coast region and it certainly fits in with tourism strategy in developing this region into a world class destination, and product such as Fish River Resort, with its Gary Player designed golf course, is a crucial and vital part of the strategy going forward,” said Haller.

“Mantis wishes to leverage its relationships with its local and international partners to develop a strategy that ensures the sustainability of the asset going forward,” said Haller.

“When we’re up and running we will sponsor the development of local golfers and establish a golfing academy here,” he said. “For now we will care-take the facility as we carefully put our plans into action. Government needs to be commended on the process put in place which has made this possible.”

Haller paid particular interest in the development of local communities and conservation saying this was very important to the Mantis Collection and Gardiner’s vision for the resort.

Once the land claim issue is resolved and ownership of the land is finalised Haller said he wanted the hotel to benefit the affected local communities.

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